Is prabal gurung the most man in fashion? woke
PRABAL Gurung regularly comments on current events, politics and social justice. He offers unvarnished, impassioned thoughts on Twitter and Instagram. And he will hold a mirror up to his own failings, including the laziness of relying on social media as a form of constructive protest.
Gurung uses fashion the way a musician might deploy particularly pointed lyrics or an artist might unveil a provocative canvas. He is not calling fashion a high art, but he does consider it a powerful form of communication.
Besides, it’s the only megaphone he has.
Fashion “gives one a platform, a way for me to speak to issues that are important to me”, Gurung said.
The general public might not recognise his name, but his work has been widely seen – worn by Michelle Obama, Helen Mirren, Kerry Washington and Issa Rae. He became the face of philanthropic relief efforts after the 2015 earthquake that killed 9 000 in his childhood home, Nepal.
Most recently, Gurung has been adding his voice to the conversation about sexual harassment and how to shift the balance of power in the workplace. He dressed Rae and Washington for the Golden Globes and then offered versions of their gowns for sale to raise money for the Time’s Up gender-equality initiative. He recently joined a televised panel of men from various industries to talk about male culpability in perpetuating sexism – with Gurung arguing that men should really be doing more listening than talking.
But before he began raising his voice on highly charged subjects, Gurung was putting plus-size models on his runway and T-shirts rallying for feminism and diversity into his collections. After the Nepal earthquake, he invited monks to open his show with a prayer and launched a fund-raiser that brought in more than $1 million to aid survivors.
Gurung is not so much a provocateur as he is a public conscience, which can be a kind of provocation in itself. He is not preaching right and wrong to Seventh Avenue, but he is encouraging it to find its moral centre. He has often been told that he is overreaching: he’s just a dressmaker, after all, creating frocks, not a cure for cancer.
But being invested in fashion, Gurung said, “doesn’t make us less concerned about what’s happening in the world… Fashion is not the land of the stupids”.